English Premiership 2009/10

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English Rugby
Lipman and Crockett appeals dismissed
September 7, 2009

Former Bath co-captains Michael Lipman and Alex Crockett have lost their appeal against nine-month bans for missing drug tests.

The duo's bid to overturn the sanctions imposed last month was dismissed by a three-man Rugby Football Union panel in London after just under two hours of deliberation. The hearing was the players' last hope of having their bans reduced within the disciplinary structure of the game. The bans run from June 1, 2009 - the date they resigned from Bath - until February 28, 2010.

A statement from the RFU read, "Alex Crockett and Michael Lipman's appeal against a nine-month suspension by the RFU was dismissed at a hearing in London today.

"On August 3, Bath players Crockett, Lipman and Andrew Higgins were found guilty by an RFU Disciplinary Panel of two charges of conduct prejudicial to the interests of the Game in failing to submit to drugs tests on two separate occasions when reasonably requested by Bath Rugby.

"Crockett and Lipman subsequently appealed against the decision and their appeal was heard today by the panel of Matthew Lohn (chairman), Philip Evans and Dr Julian Morris.

"The appeal was dismissed by the panel and the original suspension upheld, effective from June 1, 2009, the date they resigned from Bath Rugby. Crockett and Lipman can play again on February 28, 2010."

The thrust of the players' appeal centred around three contentions - that there was no lawful basis for them to be requested by Bath to submit to extra testing, that the players had reasonable grounds to not take the tests and that their refusal to take them was not prejudicial to the game. But the panel rejected the appeal on all three counts, believing it was entirely reasonable for Bath to request the extra test.

The full verdict is expected to be published by the RFU within the next 48 hours.

Lipman, capped 10 times by England, and Crockett were found to have failed on two occasions to undertake drug tests as Bath investigated allegations of misconduct during an unofficial end-of-season celebration in London. A third former Bath player, Higgins, opted against appealing, instead choosing to retire after also being hit with a nine-month suspension.

Lipman, Crockett and Higgins were among six players who were linked with allegations of drug use during the celebrations in London on May 10. Former Australia lock Justin Harrison resigned from the club after also failing to take a drugs test and later received an eight-month suspension after admitting to taking cocaine. Two other players took drug tests and were cleared.

Lipman, Crockett and Higgins did not take a test and resigned from the club shortly before they were due to attend an internal disciplinary hearing. The RFU then launched an investigation into the situation, which resulted in all three players being cleared of drug use but suspended for missing the tests.

Bath later issued a statement that read, "Following the news that the Crockett and Lipman appeal was dismissed, Bath Rugby are satisfied that, whilst this hearing was no longer a club issue, it upholds the actions taken by the club at the end of last season and the original ruling by the RFU."

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